Welcome To Queens, Chancellor

Richard Carranza, the new chancellor of New York City’s public schools, has been taking part in a “listening tour” of Queens this week, dropping by borough schools—such as Fresh Meadows’ MS 216—and holding a town hall at Francis Lewis High School to hear the needs and concerns of parents, students and educators. From what we’ve heard so far of Carranza’s agenda—which he discussed during his visits to the schools—we are encouraged.

Carranza drew cheers at the Francis Lewis town hall upon calling for equity in city schools—and we agree that this is an important mantra for borough schools to succeed. From the elementary level through high school, there are a number of Queens schools that are starved for resources, while others are bursting at the seams due to overcrowding. In recent years, the city has closed failing schools across the five boroughs. We hope that the new chancellor’s emphasis on equity results in Queens’ schools’ getting necessary resources that are distributed fairly throughout the borough.

We also applaud Carranza’s plan to reevaluate the city school system’s relationship with standardized testing and “teaching to the test,” as well as his belief that arts curricula should play a more prominent role in city schools. Too often, the city has placed too much emphasis on the former and not enough on the latter.

While Carranza may still be learning the ropes of his new position, his ideals of a well-rounded education and call for the fair distribution of resources hit the right note. We wish him success in his new role as the city’s top educator.

NYCHA Should Step Up Lead Inspections

This week, a Manhattan Supreme Court justice ordered the city’s Housing Authority (NYCHA) to inspect within 90 days a list of apartments where children reside and that may contain lead paint, rejecting the agency’s insistence that it was handling the situation on the grounds that its former chairwoman was accused last fall of making false statements regarding NYCHA’s compliance with lead paint inspection requirements.

Queens leaders have long argued that the agency has not adequately been inspecting its apartments for lead paint, which is dangerous for children under age 6, whose bodies are more sensitive to it and who are more likely to ingest it.

According to a suit against NYCHA by the Citywide Council of Presidents, the authority did not inspect apartments housing children for lead paint between 2013 and 2017. This week’s Supreme Court order would require NYCHA to compile a list of all apartments where children—age 8 and below—reside and inspect all units that have unresolved lead complaints by tenants.

We wholeheartedly agree with the court’s order. From heat and hot water outages to the agency’s inability to keep its apartments in good repair, NYCHA’s current state has been appropriately described as a “crisis.” Its tenants deserve to live in apartments free of chemicals that are dangerous to them and their children.

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